Formation and Play Breakdown - Offense vs. ECU

In this post from last week (Numerical Ramblings) I postulated that our game would shift to a more equal play calling similar to the 2nd half against Vandy. I was right except it kept shifting to where we had significantly more pass calls than runs (we call that wrong usually). As we have heard this week from the coaches that once it was obvious that ECU dedicated itself to stopping the run (wow did they ever) the game plan switched to passing and more passing.

As before I tracked the formations from 0 0 (0 RBs and 0 TEs) to 2 3 (2 RBs and 3 TEs). One thing that made this more difficult was our extensive use of TEs that stood up a few steps down the line, reading numbers, and the true purpose of the player(is he really a TE in this formation or simply to confuse the offense as a true WR). I am familiar with covering up and what defaults a TE to a blocker but Spurrier purposefully makes it confusing. If my logic is false in that aspect then feel free to correct me but I tried to appropriately track the TE numbers.

After the jump comes the data:

After 2 games it is difficult to claim that there are any true "patterns" and this is especially true due to the switch to passing instead of running. That said one formation still stood out among the others (again) and that is the 1,2 with 1 RB and 2 TEs. Below you see the overall play breakdown for the game and the corresponding formations.

The next graph is the breakdown of pass plays versus run plays. Again my assumption with all this data is with the original play call, not necessarily if the play breaks down and Thompson goes on his brisk jog version of a run. This is in the contrast to the Vanderbilt game where there were 22 passes and 31 runs.

This is also another interesting graph as you can see the similar ratio of pass and run plays in the first half. After that it varies drastically and passing leads the charge by far. This is mostly likely due to giving up entirely on the run except in keeping the threat there to ensure that ECU's LBs stayed in the box the entire game (shown further down). Personnel also starting changing rapidly in the 3rd and 4th quarter and this may have been to provide chances for certain players.

One of the best things about compiling this information is that you can try to predict the upcoming play and whether or not it will be a pass or a run. This is of course what the opposing defensive coordinators try to do every game. When you combine the formation tendency breakdown with the down, distance, and field position you can find patterns that can be exploited. Below is the graph that shows the percentage of passes or runs being played out of each formation (a minimal of 5 plays for each formation is required for it to be tracked here).

Purely basing this information UAB could postulate that when we get in the 1,0 formation there will close to an 80% chance that it will be a pass play (obviously it isn't that simple but the information is useful). In the Vanderbilt game the 1,0 formation actually had over a 50% chance to be a run so that complicates things for the defense. Even though the passing was dominating the play calling the balance was enough that ECU had to respect the run and stick to ensuring that our running game (aka Lattimore) couldn't be brought to bear. Our most used formation had only a slightly better chance to be a pass rather that a run and Spurrier used that against them.

No matter what the play calling is during the UAB game what I will be excited to see is not how balanced our play calling is but how Spurrier can tip the scales just enough to force the other team to respect one side of our offense so that we can rip them to pieces with the other. This is what makes Spurrier great (among many other things) because he will adapt in respect to the team and the situation to achieve the balance, one way or the other, that will let us get the win.

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